The new Tate Britain was previewed to the press today and I can report it is an impressive and engaging experience. It will be unveiled to the public on 19 November 2013. The transformation of the oldest part of the Grade II* Millbank building by leading architects Caruso St John marks a significant moment for Tate Britain. The unveiling follows the opening in May 2013 of ten new galleries and new BP Displays, including the chronological presentation of Tate’s unparalleled collection of British art.
The £45 million project has taken 1,800 builders more than a year-and-a-half to complete and includes: The reopening of the main entrance to Tate Britain on Millbank, combining new architectural features with the excavation of the most beautiful original architectural elements of the building. The changes restore the historical logic of the building and include a striking new spiral staircase inside the entrance, opening up access to new public spaces below.
A new learning studios located throughout the gallery including a dedicated schools’ entrance and reception underneath the Millbank Entrance steps; and a new Archive Gallery, presenting temporary displays from Tate’s extensive archive of artists’ letters and ephemera.
The first display by Paul Noble is inspired by the history of the Tate Britain site as a swamp and then a penitentiary; The opening of the circular balcony of the Rotunda’s domed atrium, closed to visitors since the 1920s, as an elegant new café and bar for Tate Members; and the Grand Saloon, a light-filled space overlooking the Thames created for seminars and events.
New site-specific work to celebrate the transformation of Tate Britain by three contemporary artists: Richard Wright has designed handmade glass and leading for the eastern window in the Millbank foyer; Alan Johnston has created a ceiling drawing for the Djanogly Café; and Nicole Wermers has created a tea and coffee spoon for use in the Djanogly Café, Members Room and the Rex Whistler Restaurant.
Director of Tate Britain, Penelope Curtis, said, “The new Tate Britain opens up the Millbank entrance to reassert and enhance the original grandeur and logic of the galleries.Adam Caruso and Peter St John have created new spaces out of old and artists have helped to articulate a new sense of the public realm.”
The new Tate Britain opens Tuesday 19 November 2013. The Tate Britain House Warming Party, a free day and evening of celebratory events, DJs, performances and sound installations, will take place on Saturday 23 November.